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Sponge Hooks, Dip Worms, Catfish Lures Etc..

I covered the basics of catfish dip baits and sponge baits the other day and talked about them being much thinner than baits like punch bait.  Fishing with these thinner cheese based catfish baits like dip bait and sponge bait requires the use of a “catfish lure” (often called a dip worm or a dip tube) or a sponge hook to give the bait something to attach itself to for catfishing.

There are many different shapes, sizes, colors and textures to these different “catfish lures” but they all serve the same purpose, which is to give the bait something to stick to, or soak

As I mentioned when I wrote about dip baits and sponge baits the other day, these can be very effective baits but they are generally kind of messy to fish with so if your worried about messing up your boat, you might want to look elsewhere for a different catfish bait.

Part of the reason for the rise in popularity of catfish punch baits in the last ten years or so is because punch baits can be fished with a bare treble hook eliminating the expense of having to have this specialized tackle to keep the bait on the hook.  If you are putting big numbers of fish in the boat, or breaking off a lot, the expense of buying these dip tubes, worms or sponge hooks can add up very quickly.

I was fishing for channel catfish with punch bait the other day in a very heavily wooded area, and we were getting hung up breaking off hooks left and right. During this one trip alone we went through the better part of a box of treble hooks. The cost of one box of Eagle Claw Lazer Treble Hooks works out to roughly $13.

I do have to throw out the disclaimer that I am like a bull in a china shop when it comes to hangups, removing hooks etc and don’t like wasting time fighting with tackle so I probably go through quite a bit more than the average bear.

When you add the fact that you often tear up treble hooks just from the simple act of removing them from a catfish mouth, this could become an expensive endeavor all in itself. Just fishing with catfish punch bait alone on a busy day it’s not uncommon for me to go through twenty or more treble hooks in a single day. If I was buying expensive “catfish lures” that cost could add up very quickly.

I used to fish with dip baits and sponge baits quite often many years ago but this was long before the punch baits ever hit the market. When I did fish with them, we never purchased our own lures or sponge hooks, we always made our own, because it helped keep the cost down.

I am going to show you in future articles how to make several different forms of sponge hooks and dip worms that will help keep your cost down, if you choose to fish with these style baits over punch baits (if using manufactured baits at all).

For the purpose of this article I am going to run through the different styles of catfish lures and sponge hooks, break down the costs and basics of each and give you enough information to be armed and dangerous when deciding whether you want to use a sponge or dip bait for catfish.

The process for baiting the hook with all of these different products is going to be basically the same, insert the lure or hook into the jar or bucket of bait, stir it up really good and cover it with bait, and remove the hook, shaking off the excess in the process.

I have not personally used any of the products outlined or linked to below so I cannot attest to their effectiveness or durability, this is for informational purposes only to outline your options should you choose to fish with dip or sponge baits and purchase a “catfish lure” or sponge hook for use with these products.

I will be adding some additional information in separate articles outlining how to make your own sponge hooks, dip tunes and some other similar products. As I have said many times I recognize that some people would rather buy something and go fishing and some are happier making something and going

Team Catfish Furry Thang

The Team Catfish Furry Thang is a treble hook covered in a gold string like substance that consists of many small “loops” which are what holds the catfish bait on the hook. These style hooks have been on the market for many years and sold under a different name. A number of years ago I had a guy that I used to run into at the boat ramps that fished with a similar hook but he made them himself. At that time he told me that there was a paint roller made for “faux finishing” he purchased at Home Depot and cut into strips and then glued onto the base of the shaft of the treble hook, to make what he claimed was the same hook.

I have never personally fished with these Team Catfish Furry Thang Hooks so I cannot attest to their effectiveness. I did do make a trip through the paint aisle at Home Depot when I was working on this article and didn’t see any paint rollers that appeared to be similar to this substance so it they may not be available any longer.

The Team Catfish Furry Thang Hooks are “catfish lures” or implements for holding the baits on the hook that I found in the research for this article and the average price appears to be around $.75 per hook.

Product Link: Team Catfish FURRY THaNG Treble Hooks

Dip Bait Worms

Dip bait worms come in many different shapes, sizes and colors and as a general rule are all pretty much the same products. A “plastic” molded piece a couple of inches long with ridges in it, a hook at the bottom and a monofilament leader. The material is similar to what bass fishing worms or lizards would be made of. Just about every manufacturer of dip bait has their own brand of worm, with primary differences really only being the colors available and the size of the ridges in the worm. Some manufacturers add a small sponge in addition to the worm as well but as a general rule, they are all pretty much the same.

On average the cost appears to be around $.65 per hook.

I have used some of these in the past by a number of different manufacturers, mostly when we found them on clearance or when we found someone that would make them for us.

Product Link: Bass Pro Shops Dip Bait Worm and Catfish Charlie Dip Bait Worms – 3 Pack

The absolute best deals I found hands down on catfish dip worms was on ebay, buying the worms separate so you can rig them yourself, search catfish dip worms on Ebay.

Dip Bait Tubes

Dip bait tubes are generally roughly the same size as dip bait worms and have a treble hook at the bottom and a monofilament leader. Just like dip worms they are available from just about every dip bait manufacturer. They are available in just about every color imaginable but at the end of the day are all pretty much the same thing, a small piece of surgical tubing with a hook and a leader, and on occasion  a sponge has been added as well. Some have more holes in the surgical tubing than others or some other slight variation but as a general rule, they are all pretty much the same thing. There are some manufacturers producing dip bait tubes with j-hooks instead of treble hooks but as a general rule the treble hook is most common.

On average the cost is around $.50 per hook for dip bait tubes.

Sponge Hooks

Sponge Hooks are again very similar to dip tubes and dip worms, and generally contain a monofilament leader, a treble hook and a small piece of sponge. Sponges range from natural sponge all the way to what appears to be a standard kitchen sponge cut into small squares.

Sponge hooks are all pretty standard and all pretty much the same with the exception of the sponge color and consistency (type of sponge) you are not going to find a whole lot of bells or whistles here.

The cost per sponge hook averages about $.75-$.85 per hook.

As a general rule the cost of punch baits and dip baits is roughly the same or within a couple of dollars of each other per gallon depending on the branch, shipping etc. It’s safe to say that the costs is the same across the board.

The biggest difference comes in the cost of the addition implements (worms, tubes, sponges etc) to keep the baits on the hooks.

Let’s break down the differences, based on the cost of 50 hooks

  • Punch Bait Fishing – Eagle Claw Lazer Treble Hooks – 50 Per Box – $12.99
  • Dip Bait and Sponge Bait Fishing – Average cost of $.75 per catfish lure @ 50 hooks  – $42.50

It is safe to say that if you are fishing with dip baits or sponge baits and buying the hooks it’s going to cost you roughly three times as much as fishing with punch bait using a standard (bare) treble hook.

Obviously  if you make the tubes, worms or sponges yourself you can reduce your cost significantly. I am going to show you a few simple (and very effective) ways to make sponge hooks, dip tubes etc in some future articles, as well as let you in on a catfishing secret on how to make the absolute best sponge hook for a minor fraction of what it costs to buy sponge hooks.

Sound Off: What products do you use for fishing with dip baits or sponge baits?

Make sure you visit the tackle page for the list of products that I use in my catfish guide service.

Visit all of the pages on Learn To Catch Catfish for more great catfishing tips, tricks and information. Subscribe to our daily feed for daily updates by email as we add them and our newsletter for less frequent updates and to gain access to exclusive content and promotions as they become available. You can also keep up by following on Twitter and Facebook.

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About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google


  1. Ralph Gooding says:

    I have a friend of mine that wants to try to make his own sponge bait hooks so I told him about your site it really worked he caught a 12 pound and a 9 pound catfish he said to tell you thanks for the info

  2. I used to fish alot with dip baits but the price of the lures were killing my wallet. That and they were always the same size and clumsy especially when the channel cats would bite short so I started looking into making my own. at first I would by the bass fishing fry worms the 5″ ones were about the same size as the commercial style lures and I was lucky to find 3.5″ finese style fry worms and made them out of these bass lures saved a bunch of money and I could use smaller treble hooks when the fish were biting short. Today I have wooden molds that I hand carved and melt down old plastic bass worms I find on the bank while I’m fishing and make them this way my favorite ones to use are so small a size 10 treble will clear the treble hook. Now days I hardly fish with dip baits simply because i finally after many experiments have gotten my own punch bait perfected. I was reading on the web site about the hook size to use and I rarely use anything larger than a size 8. My go to size is normally size10 but when I can find them I love using size 12 or 14 and have brought in several channels weighing more than 5lbs. Guess it’s just personal preference. If u like using dip try making your own out of the bass fry worms will save u lots of money.

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